April 25, 2019

Groton library ready to grow

Building plans for $1.1 million expansion, renovation unveiled

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Librarian’s helper Aaron HIll sleeves DVDs Wednesday at the Groton Public Library. The library, built in 1917, has been cramped for years, and the acquisition of new space was one of four goals outlined in a five-year plan drafted in 2014, library director Sara Knobel said.

GROTON — Phase one of a two-part, $1.1 million expansion and renovation project for Groton Public Library unveiled this week and expected to begin later this winter has village and town residents excited to get started.

“I’ve wanted this forever,” Mary Roberts said Tuesday at the library after the building plans where unveiled by the library’s board of trustees.

Roberts served on the board of trustees for the library from 2011 to 2016. She said the board had talked about expanding, but nothing came to fruition before now.

“We need it because we’ve outgrown the space,” she said.

The library, built in 1917, has been cramped for years, and the acquisition of new space was one of four goals outlined in a five-year plan drafted in 2014, library director Sara Knobel said.

The library has gone far beyond the traditional mission of lending books and giving people a place to read. The library now hosts a monthly dinner and cooking classes. It has teen movie nights and this summer, started opening at 10 a.m. instead of its normal 2 p.m. to give kids a safe place to hang out. It has become a hub for the community, Knobel said.

Funding for both phases comes from grants and donations.

The $250,000 first phase reconfigures the existing space. The library received a $125,000 state library construction grant. The grant required the library to match the funds, said board of trustees President Sheri Shurtleff.

The board did that using reserve funds.

Not all of the $250,000 is expected to be used, said Carl Haynes, the chairman for the expansion fundraising campaign and former president of Tompkins Cortland Community College.

“We hope that some of that fund balance can be used for furnishings and things,” he said.

The adult reading sections, now in in the back of the library, will move toward the front, swapping places with the children’s books.

The change means fewer adult books than there are now, although the exact number hasn’t been determined yet.

“There’s a lot of items that haven’t been checked out in years,” Knobel said.

The children’s area will then be sectioned by age.

A vestibule on the side of the building facing the fire station will become the entrance after the main portion of the library closes for the day. It will also have a refrigerator with free food that people can access at any time.

Knobel’s office will also double in size.

“My biggest request was that I could have a table and chair because right now people have to stand and talk in the doorway,” Knobel said.

The second phase of the project is a 2,000-square-foot addition to the back of the library. The addition is being built on 6,000 square feet donated by Tompkins County Emergency Response Director Lee Shurtleff and his family.

The one-story addition, with a full basement, will include a staff work room, kitchenette, tutoring room and meeting room. Knobel said space would be provided for an elevator.

“If we have the funds, we’ll put one in. If not, we’ll put one in later,” Knobel said.

The board of trustees plans to put phase two of the project out to bid in the spring and begin breaking ground in the summer. However, that depends on when the board receives two $350,000 State Assistance to Municipalities grants the library was awarded in August.

“Keep in mind the money is already there,” Haynes said. “This is just the bureaucratic process.”

The Friends of the Groton Public Library also raised more than $150,000.

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